A 'DISAPPOINTING' turnout was seen at a Cumbrian district council’s local election recently, leading to calls for more people to get involved in local politics.

Liberal Democrat Roger Burgin won a seat in Penrith West on Eden District Council’s by-election on September 30 - with just 173 votes.

Just 17.16 per cent of the 2,320 strong electorate turned out, with 398 ballot papers verified. Conservative candidate Dale Andrew Normington took second place in the race to be Penrith West's next councillor, with 87 votes.

Independent candidate, Jeff Thomson took third place with 51.

In contrast, Allerdale Borough Council’s by-elections in May 6 saw a turnout of 35.02 per cent in Aspatria, 37.9 in Christchurch and 36.88 per cent in Cockermouth North - though the same elections saw 19.94 percent of the electorate have their say in Salterbeck.

Andrew Connell, chairman of Eden District Council, said: “It’s disappointing when people don’t turn out in large numbers but I think an analysis of elections, especially by-elections, indicates turnout is historically low.

“It indicates a relatively low level of interest unfortunately. Which is disappointing but a result is a result.”

He added that 'it would be nice' if more of the electorate had their say in by-elections.

Labour councillor for Alston Moor Michael Hanley said: "Historically there's always been a low turnout for Local Government elections, maximum you get is about 30 per cent. It's a pity that more people don't get out and vote."

Cllr Hanley would like to see more young people engaging with local politics.

"We need young councillors as well. I think it all depends on new young councillors. Young councillors will be more in tune to what young residents want."

But he said the Local Government Reform may be counter productive to this: "At the moment I think there's 38 councillors just for Eden. They want the same number for an area 4/5 times bigger than Eden."

Eden will from part of the 'east' council with Barrow-in-Furness and South Lakeland after Local Government Reorganisation, while Allerdale, Copeland and Carlisle will be governed by one 'west' council.

Cllr Hanley said: "There'll be more work involved and we don't get massive amounts of money. That remuneration isn't isn't going to attract young people."

A victory for the Liberal Democrats in Penrith West sees the status quo remain the same as the ruling coalition consists of the Lib Dems, the Green Party, Labour and Independent councillors.